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Common Cuckoo - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Eurasian Cuckoo

Nominate Subspecies
Photo by Daniele Occhiato
Passo della Raticosa, Tuscany, Italy
Cuculus canorus
Subspecies C. c. bakeri
Photo by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, 23 June 2017



  • Bluish-grey upperparts, head and upper breast
  • White belly with dark barring
  • Yellow feet, iris and bill base

Female - two colour morphs

  • Grey: similar to male but has a buffish tinge to upper chest
  • Brown: rufous brown upperparts and breast

In both sexes, the underwing shows a pattern of pale, dark, white, dark from front to back, and the tail feathers show a pattern or white spots or bands.


Common and very widespread throughout the region. Breeds in the British Isles and mainland Europe from Iberia east to the Urals and Caspian. In the north breeds throughout Scandinavia, except the extreme north coast and north to about 66° N in Russia. In the south breeds along north coast of Mediterranean and on the Balearics, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, and throughout most of Turkey. Breeds patchily in the Middle East and in North Africa where confined to parts of the North-West. Has bred on Malta and Cyprus.

Strictly migratory, leaving Europe in late-July to early September to winter in tropical Africa and returning mid-April to May although wintering in Europe has been recorded.

Vagrant north to Iceland and Faroes, west to Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands.


Brown Morph
Photo by AJDH
Badaan Farm, Bahrain, April 2008


Subspecies C. c. bangsi Brown Morph
Photo by JimMorris
Extremadura, Spain, May 2009

There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • C. c. bangsi: possibly shows distinctly rufous breast in female.
  • C. c. canorus:
  • C. c. subtelephonus: is similar in size to nominate but has narrower bars below.
  • C. c. bakeri:


A wide variety of habitats with trees and bushes including open woodland, moorland, forest edge and clearings, cultivated land and grassland, reedbeds and marshes.


It is a bird of open land.


Sits horizontally on wires or exposed branches.
Direct flight, with wings coming below the horizontal


Its food is insects, with hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds, being a specialty.


The female lays an egg which mimicks the eggs of the host species. The hatchling pushes the eggs and young of the host out of the nest.

Nominate subspecies Juvenile
Photo by nkgray
Attadale, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, August 2008


Recording by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India, June-2017
Call given by one bird. Brief calls by Jacobin Cuckoo, Red-wattled Lapwing, Asian Pied Starling and Western Koel, too are heard, in the BG.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  3. BF Member observations

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